For more than a decade we have been regaled with the shameful precedent of the Munich Accord and the cowardice of European states in the face of Hitler as an argument for standing up to Saddam Hussein.
However, to compare Germany in 1938 and Iraq in 2003 is at best laughable.
The Hitler regime was possessed of imposing military might, backed up by an advanced industrial complex that was working flat out and was a leader in various spheres, including weaponry. The FÃ¼hrer, who had come to power through democratic means, boasted of the superiority of his State and his model of society and did not conceal his intention to seek world control. Such was his power and arrogance, and so obvious was the fervour of his support, that he was able to cow most Western governments. In the face of their cowardice, he was able to flout international law, aided by the Western governmentsâ€™ approval of his ferocious antipathy to communism, whose adherents the Nazis accused of terrorism (vide the trials for the Reichstag fire).
So how does this compare with the regime of Saddam Hussein? The Iraqi dictator â€“ whose army could not defeat Iran despite backing from the United States and Russia â€“ is in no position to contemplate attacking anybody. Industrially, the country lacks the means even of defending itself, with an underfed population and half its territory subject to foreign-imposed no-fly zones. Indeed, Saddam for many months has resigned himself to ever-increasing humiliations as inspectors are allowed even to look under the carpets in his own home.
Who can seriously suggest comparing such a beggared satrap with the Hitler of 1938?
However, the comparison with 1938 need not be entirely wasted.
Is there someone in the world today possessed of overwhelming military might backed up by an advanced industrial complex, leading especially in weaponry, who boasts of the superiority of his State and his model of society; who does not conceal his intention to seek world control; whose arrogance is unlimited and who flouts international law at will with hardly a peep from Western governments?
The term â€œDictatorâ€ means someone who dictates â€“ that is, tells everyone else what to do. Is there possibly someone at this time who tells the whole world what to do and believes himself above all law other than that of his imperial will?
If no name comes to mind, you should get your head examined.
[translated by Alistair Ross]